Four Fla. Companies Canceling 9,000 Policies, One Firm Leaving the State

January 7, 2005

Four small insurance companies are in the process of canceling 9,000 policies, while one is leaving Florida, according to Valerie Beynon, an Office of Insurance Regulation spokeswoman.

Liberty American, Penn Charter, Auto-Owners and Mobile USA have started canceling policies. Together the four companies insure about 191,000 policyholders.

An emergency rule put in effect after the four hurricanes clobbered Florida last year still prohibits cancellations of policies for homes damaged by one of the storms until 60 days after damage has been repaired. That order expires March 31 but is likely to be extended.

Fort Myers insurance agent Linda Young said that Auto-Owners’ marketing representative told her to expect non-renewal notices in Lee County.

“They took a pretty big hit with these last four storms, and they felt they were saturated in Florida and wanted to shed some of that risk,” Young told the Gannett News.

According to Jeff Grady, president of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents, Liberty American and Mobile USA are canceling policies. Philadelphia Insurance, Penn Charter and Auto-Owners were unavailable to comment.

“We’re talking about a very tiny percentage of the total insurance policies out there being affected,” Sam Miller, executive vice president of the Florida Insurance Council said.

Miller thinks that most companies will “stand pat,” with the exception being companies that insure mobile homes that sustained huge losses from the four storms. One in five homes in Florida are manufactured or mobile homes.

Beynon said Penn Charter is the only company pulling completely out of Florida. The company has about 6,300 policies, most for traditional homes. She said about 40 percent have already been picked up by other companies.

Auto-Owners is canceling about 2,700 mobile home policies but not other lines of homeowners insurance, Beynon said.

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